Having survived two world wars, London is a city steeped in military history and those on the hunt for a glimpse of wartime Britain will be spoilt for choice in the capital. Here’s the lowdown on London’s most important war museums and monuments.

Imperial War Museum: The pièce de résistance of London’s wartime treasures, the Imperial War Museum is devoted to telling the stories of Britain’s soldiers and citizens, and educating younger generations on the Great Wars. The museum dates back to 1920 and houses a vast permanent collection of war memorabilia including an impressive display of tanks, aircrafts and personal items from the war years, alongside fascinating exhibits of both World wars and an interactive recreation of a WWI bunker. The museum opens daily from 10am – 6pm and is reachable by tube from Waterloo, Lambeth North and Southwark.

HMS Belfast: This impressive World War II warship has been moored on the South side of the Thames since 1971 and contains 9 decks of exhibits and restored living and working quarters. Although currently closed for restoration, the HMS Belfast is due to reopen soon, when visitors can explore the ship, climb the sailor’s ladders and learn about life at sea during the war years. The Gun Turret Experience, Engine room and the interactive Operations Room are particular highlights.

Churchill War Rooms: Part of the Imperial War Museums, the original Churchill War Rooms offer a fascinatingly real insight into the workings of the WWII-era government. The rooms were home to Britain’s government during the Blitz and include the Cabinet War Room, where Churchill once declared: 'This is the room from which I will direct the war'. Today, the museum – a maze of rooms tucked deep underground - explores the life and legacy of Winston Churchill and includes stories, speeches, photos and documents that serve to bring to life the secret history of Britain at war. Open daily from 9.30am - 6pm, the museum is accessible by tube from Westminster and St James's Park stations.

RAF Museum: Another of London’s premier museums, the Royal Air Force Museum is around 30 minutes out of central London and showcases a collection of over 100 full-size aircrafts including a Lancaster Bomber from WWII and an excellent series of exhibitions covering the Blitz, Air Traffic Control and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service. The museum is open 10am – 6pm and is reachable by tube from Colindale Station.

National Army Museum: A great selection of exhibitions, galleries and public events focusing on the history of the British Army and remembrance of those who have lived and died in service. Exhibitions at the National Army Museum cover many of the country’s conflicts including WWI (in particular a reconstructed dug-out from 1917, a full-scale tank replica and a temporary exhibition on the recent film ‘War Horse’) and WWII (including audio-visuals, archive film footage and a six-pounder anti-tank gun). The museum is 10.00am to 5.30pm and is accessible by tube from Sloane Square Tube.

American Memorial Chapel at St. Paul’s Cathedral: Paid for entirely by public donations, the chapel at the world famous Cathedral displays a Roll of Honour containing the names of over 28,000 Americans who gave their lives during the Second World War.

Winston Churchill's Britain at War Experience: A fascinating recreation of Britain at War during the Blitz, this interactive museum offers visitors the chance to experience what it was like in an air raid shelter, listen to wartime news via the underground cinema or the BBC radio studio, learn about life on the home front and even dress up in wartime clothing complete with gasmasks. Activities are great for kids, but there’s plenty to keep the adult visitor occupied too. The museum is open daily from 10am – 4.30pm and is accessible by tube from London Bridge.

Tours & Tickets

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WWII Historical Walking Tour in London: Churchill War Rooms and Westminster

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 11 Reviews

Discover Westminster’s Second World War sights with a knowledgeable guide and visit the fascinating Churchill War Rooms, an underground network of bunkers that ...  Read more

Location: London, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $81.24

Wartime London Tour: Westminster and the West End

4.5 star rating: Recommended 20 Reviews

Traveling in a period vehicle from the 1930s or 40s, go back in time to London’s days of war on this two-hour professionally guided World War II tour. Visit ...  Read more

Location: London, United Kingdom
Duration: Varies

From USD $43.11

Wartime London Tour: The City and Imperial War Museum

4.5 star rating: Recommended 23 Reviews

In a period vehicle from the 1930s or 40s, explore the World War II sites of London with a professional guide, and see London like few visitors do! Discover ...  Read more

Location: London, United Kingdom
Duration: Varies

From USD $39.79

Private Tour: Customized Black Cab Tour of London

Drive around London in your private black taxi and discover the city from a local’s perspective with your knowledgeable guide. See, for example, film locations ...  Read more

Location: London, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $91.19

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